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Photo by Stephen Brashear USA Today
Cal Football

Cal Falls to UW in OT, Spoiling Rousing Comeback

September 25, 2021
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After staging a spirited comeback to erase a two-touchdown deficit and force overtime, Cal literally fumbled away its chance to beat Washington in Seattle on Saturday night.

The Huskies had the ball first in the OT, and Sean McGrew scored a touchdown to put the home team ahead, 31-24. On its OT possession, Cal seemed poised to get a score of its own. Damien Moore, who was the Bears' primary ball carrier all night, had just carried for eight yards to the Huskies’ 2. On the next play, he got as far as the 1 before the ball came out. Washington’s Ryan Bowman fell on it in the end zone and what could have been one of Cal’s most thrilling victories turned into a bitter, disappointing defeat by the 31-24 score.

Cal (1-3, 0-1 Pac-12) fell behind, 21-7, late in the second period. But the Bears managed a field goal just before intermission and in the second half, the defense stymied the Huskies, enabling the Bears to pull even..

“It was a tough loss,” head coach Justin Wilcox said afterward. “I am really proud of the way our team competed throughout the game. It didn’t go as smoothly as we would have liked at times. ….We have to find a way to make just a handful more plays and we’ll come out on top, Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.”

Stephen Brashear USA Today
Jalen McMillan hauls in a Husky touchdown

Garbers, who scored the tying touchdown himself on a 7-yard run, finished the night 30-for-41 passing for 319 yards and two touchdowns. He was also the Bears leading rusher, picking up 71 yards on 16 attempts.

Moore, who was the only Cal running back to carry the ball until Christopher Brooks had a 9-yard carry in overtime, finished the night with 67 yards on 18 carries.

“We need to do some things to keep converting drives and scoring in the red zone,” Wilcox said. “We had a couple of opportunities there. You could pick just this one a lot of different ways. A play here or there on offense, on defense on special teams, and the outcome is going to be different But that’s the way it goes, and we have to own it, move on and persevere.”

With time running out on Garbers and the Bears they finally caught the Huskies with 2:51 left in the fourth period. After their previous two drives had sputtered out, Cal went 62 yards to tie the score. The key plays were Garbers hitting Jeremiah Hunter for 19 yards on a 3rd-and-7, and the quarterback running for 24 yards on a 3rd-and-4. 

Garbers accounted for the final 7 yards.

The Bears had one final chance in regulation and got close enough for Dario Longhetto to try a 55-yard field goal. It was down the middle but short and the game went to overtime.

The Bears limited the Huskies to a field goal in the second half until OT, and Garbers’ 26-yard outlet pass to Moore resulted in a touchdown to bring the Bears within a touchdown. The Cal running back tight-roped along the sideline all the way to the end zone to make the score 24-17 with 5:09 left in the third quarter. 

Cal’s mistakes hurt them early. After the Bears had forced a three-and-out on Washington’s first series of the game, the Bears turned the ball over when Kyler Gordon picked off a Garbers pass and returned to the Bears’ 36.

Stephen Brashear USA Today
Chase Garbers (7) and Jake Tonges

The Cal defense had the Huskies in a 4th-and-2, but Dylan Morris hit backup tight end Devin Culp over the middle for 8 yards. On 3rd-and-9, Morris found Taj Davis for 19 yards and the first TD of the afternoon.

Garbers rallied the Bears for a 67-yard drive to tie things up.
The Bears twice converted fourth downs, both were passes when the Huskies were expecting a run. On the first, a 4th-and-2 from the Huskies 32, Garbers lobbed to a wide-open Kekoa Crawford for a 23-yard gain.

Cal sputtered inside the ten and on fourth down from the 1-yard line, Garbers again lured the Huskies into defending the run and found a wide-open Jake Tonges in the end zone.

Morris quickly led the Huskies to another TD. He completed five consecutive passes to move from his 25 to the Bears 10. Two plays later he hit Jalen McMillan for a 6-yard score.

The Bears wasted a nice drive that had carried all the way to the Washington 10. Then on a 3rd-down penalty forced a field goal try from the 27, Jamieson Sheahan could not handle the snap and was tackled for a 9-yard loss.

Morris had the Huskies offense in gear again, and Washington moved swiftly the Cal 20. The Bear defense got a little stingy at that point, but Washington was able to convert a 4th-and-2 on a quarterback sneak. With another fourth down looming the Bears were penalized for a defensive holding. On the next play McGrew went 5 yards up the middle for the score.

The Bears took some momentum into halftime by driving from their 11 to the Washington 10 in less than a minute and a half. Longhetto kicked a field goal from the 28 as time ran out.

Three Bears, Tonges, defensive lineman Stanely McMillan and wide receiver Nikko Remigio left the game with injuries. Wilcox had no immediate word on their condition.

Notes

  • Cal hosts Washington State next Saturday, Kickoff is 2:30.
  • Washington tight end Cade Otton was in COVID protocol and unavailable.
  • The touchdown pass to Crawford was the first allowed by the Washington defense all year.
 
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